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German Genomics Research Project to Analyze DNA Samples Using Affymetrix Technology

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Affymetrix Inc. has announced that the National Genome Research Network (NGFN) in Germany has selected the Affymetrix Genome-Wide Human SNP Array 5.0 to genotype more than 17,000 individuals.

Access to this detailed genetic information should help researchers better understand the underlying causes and develop more effective treatments for 25 complex diseases, including Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, heart diseases, malaria and Parkinson’s. The NGFN will use the new SNP Array 6.0 when it becomes available later this year.

The project is said to be a part of one of the world’s largest genetic research efforts. The NGFN consists of a team of scientists from more than 10 research institutions around the country who are committed to standardizing the set of controls, protocols and analysis tools for whole-genome association studies. Results of the studies will flow into a database accessible to both researchers from academia and the pharmaceutical industry.

“With this large-scale project, we hope to encourage the launch of further projects of this kind,” said Professor Stefan Schreiber of the University of Kiel.

“Our aim is to discover how similar diseases are linked in order to identify genes related to multiple diseases. In near time, the global community will have the chance of a joint analysis across countries using multiple association samples. The ability to analyze large sample cohorts such as these with cutting-edge technologies is crucial to understanding complex genetics.”

The latest NGFN project builds on the success of the first project, which focused on developing a control cohort database that would be free and available to the public. The database is enabling researchers from both academia and the pharmaceutical industry to reduce the number of required control samples and increase the genetic power of their current studies by adding age- and sex-matched controls from similar ethnic backgrounds as their cases.

As a result of this project and others around the world, the Affymetrix Control Program is now the world’s largest population genetics resource, containing genotype data from more than 12,000 samples.

The Affymetrix SNP Array 5.0 was developed to help researchers better identify and understand the genetic variations associated with complex diseases, such as autism, bipolar disease, cancer, diabetes and heart disease. The SNP Array 5.0 features single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from the original Affymetrix two-chip 500K Array Set, as well as 420,000 additional probes that can measure other genetic differences, such as copy number variation.

The SNP Array 5.0 gives researchers a significant increase in information above the original 500K Array Set for the same price, while reducing the array processing time. The NGFN will also have access to the next-generation SNP Array 6.0, which is expected to be available later this year.

“The latest studies for the National Genome Research Network are great examples of experiments that are now possible to perform because of the latest innovative Affymetrix genotyping products,” said Kevin King, president of life sciences business and executive vice president at Affymetrix.

“Because of the advances in technology and the creation of the Affymetrix Control Program, Affymetrix genotyping products are considered to be the gold standard in large-scale genotyping, enabling researchers to accelerate discoveries in the lab and help bring new treatments and tests to the patient’s bedside,” Mr. King added.